Delta CEO Ed Bastian joined hundreds of students, alumni and members of the Emory University Goizueta School of Business community Thursday for a candid discussion on the importance of navigating uncertainty with values-led leadership during the school's annual IMPACT program.
During the virtual keynote with Dr. Jeff Rosensweig, Associate Professor of International Business and Finance, Bastian attributed Delta's strong core values delivered by the company's 90,000 global employees as the driver behind the airline's swift decisions during the worldwide pandemic.
"We talk so much about our values that people know what to do in times of crisis," Bastian said. "Values aren't something you put on a shelf or an exercise you update once or twice a year – you live them every single day. Our ability to respond as quickly as we have is because we know who we are and the values we believe."
When asked his advice for the 2020 graduating class, given the cancelation of the school's commencement ceremonies due to the pandemic, Bastian emphasized the need for bravery and courage to create a more connected world.
"The reality is our world needs you more than ever. Our businesses need you more than ever. Having lived through this tough experience, you'll bring a different perspective that we all need to know," he said. "While it'll be tough over the next couple of years for all of us, and we're going to have to live with unusual societal patterns, let's all hope and pray this is something that will truly bring us closer at the end."
The conversation concluded with questions from the audience, followed by Bastian receiving the school's Global Leadership Award for his "bold actions to look after Delta employees, customers and shareholders."
A replay of the webcast will be available.